Even more millions from Growth Fund to the UM

Even more millions from Growth Fund to the UM

Extra money for cultured meat and education

20-04-2022 · News

It is not just for the Einstein Telescope that an astronomical amount has been reserved (almost a billion) via the National Growth Fund but many millions in subsidies are also waiting for, among others, cultured meat and education research at Maastricht University.

The Cabinet is setting aside sixty million euro to promote education and research into cultured meat and dairy. The money will not go to Mosa Meat, the company that was co-founded by UM professor Mark Post, but to a consortium of companies, universities and other organisations. Moreover, it is not just about cultured meat but also about laboratory-created cheese, initiated by among others Jaap Korteweg from De Vegetarische Slager, (The Vegetarian Butcher).

The companies and universities will use the subsidy to carry out more research into cultured food, says Tim van de Rijdt, head of communication at Mosa Meat. “On the one hand, more knowledge is needed with regard to the biology, cellular growth and the role of muscles and fat, specifically in cows. And on the other hand, about the engineering, bioreactors and industrial upscaling.”

The money is also intended for training more experts, not just to do research, but also to operate machinery, carry out repairs, so employees from Universities of Applied Sciences and intermediate vocational education. Mosa Meat also has a shortage of these people, says Van de Rijdt. “Scientists from all over the world come to us, we have 25 different nationalities among our employees, but people in permanent positions will not be quick to move to the other side of the world.

The Growth Fund has only honoured some of the consortium’s plans. Van de Rijdt: “Only our scientific proposals, not the social ones. We also wanted to do research into consumer acceptance and the role that smaller parties such as farmers can play. And we wanted to look at how you could improve the investment climate in the Netherlands in this field. But the Fund gave the technology priority.”

What is the status quo with respect to cultured meat? “We are now dealing with the application for the European Food Safety Authority, which approves the marketing of nutritional products. This usually takes one and a half to two years, so the cultured burger could appear on restaurant menus at the end of 2024.”

Equal opportunities

The Ontwikkelkracht project, (Development Power project), in which the UM is also involved, is receiving no less than 332 million euro (of which 231 million euro is subject to conditions). On the National Growth Fund site, there is a warning against the deteriorating performance of pupils over the past twenty years. “Where the Netherlands used to have one of the best educational systems in the world, we have now become an average European country. The National Growth Fund offers unique opportunities to invest in the learning capacity of education on a large scale.” The UM, which works together with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Education Lab, is one of the main applicants. According to Inge de Wolf, professor of Education Systems in Maastricht and director of the Education Lab, Development Power is meant to “create a bridge between science and schools. There are very few links and where they are – and are received enthusiastically – they are not scaled up.” Schools base their decisions insufficiently on scientific knowledge about what works, while it is possible for them to benefit from it, she concludes. “Everything we do, is ultimately for the benefit of the pupils. They are our focus.” Equal opportunities and improvement of the basic skills such as language and mathematics – “something that many educational institutes are struggling with” – are the specific subjects that the UM will focus on.

Language labs

Most of the millions from the Growth Fund will go to secondary and primary education itself and not to science. For example, time (FTEs) will be given to teachers and school managers who want to take on a leading role, familiarise themselves with the material (from science), and use it in practice to subsequently ‘copy’ it at other schools in the region. “For years, they have been working on this kind of Development Power in England and you see that it really bears fruit there.” Six ‘labs’ will be set up in the country. Two of which are well on their way to being complete: a language lab and a teachers’ lab. The latter should provide an answer to the question how you can attract good teachers and hold on to them. In Amsterdam, with a subsidy from the city, people already launched a language lab a number of months ago. “That is about the improvement of language skills in vulnerable pupils, which approach works? For this, you look at interventions abroad, you try them out in Dutch schools and then measure whether they are effective.”

Wendy Degens/ Maurice Timmermans 

 

Author: Redactie

Photo: Ribeiro

Categories: Science
Tags: Groeifonds, cultured meat, education

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